Flinders Quartet’s Zoe Knighton on finding the voices of the future and hypothetical conversations with dead composers.

With a pile of scores overflowing the music shelves, and more recent ones sitting as PDFs in the inbox, it had long been clear to us there was a great need for emerging composers to have their music played. Flinders Quartet never has enough time in rehearsals for our programmed material as it is, so to add in extras seemed out of the question. The piles – both actual and electronic – were a bit overwhelming and it was hard to know where to start. So, a decision was made to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with new submissions and an organised composer workshop.

The plan was to put a call out to all Australian emerging composers, with no caveats. Our manager ensured the submissions remained anonymous, so when we were choosing potential candidates we wouldn’t be swayed by gender, age or racial background. With 26 submissions, and the enlisted help of Mary Finsterer whose advice was invaluable, it took a few weeks of pouring over scores to handpick eight.